Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Thursday, September 15, 2016

HELP

Someone posted a long comment, and before I could read it I accidentally deleted it and I do not seem to be able to get it back.  Would whoever posted it please repost it?   I am terribly sorry.

9 comments:

LFC said...

I think I'm the one who posted the comment you accidentally deleted. It was just a few desultory remarks about your first two Kant lectures, from my mostly ignorant (of Kant) viewpoint. I can't rewrite the whole thing, but one thing I said was that you don't make Kant sound very careful about the way he used terms, etc. Sort of surprising given that you also said unequivocally that the Critique is the greatest work of philosophy ever written.

The other remark is that I have not followed everything in the first 2 lectures, presumably due to my lack of nec. background and not reading along. Yr immediate audience in the room, and probably most of the YouTube audience, will not have this problem.

And one other thing (that wasn't in my original comment): I completely didn't follow your exchange w Prof. Nelson. I have no idea what a "discursive concept" means in this context. (But, again, that's just my lack of familiarity with most of the issues here.)

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Tanks for reposting. First, precise care in using terms is not crucial for being a great philosopher. Precise and powerful thinking is. I asked Alan Nelson to write a few sentences about his point, which he did, and I will begin by reading what he wrote and then responding at some length. I hope that will make it all clearer.

LFC said...

Thanks.

s. wallerstein said...

Doesn't a great philosopher need vision, creativity and the ability to make us think and examine our conventional wisdom?

A few years ago I read Spinoza's Ethics and then Jonathan Bennett's book on the Ethics. Bennett dedicates a lot of attention to pointing out Spinoza's many errors in logic and his imprecisions in reasoning and language. That did not diminish Spinoza's worth for me in the least. While Bennett may be a more careful proof reader and logician than Spinoza, I have no doubt that Spinoza is the greater philosopher.

David Palmeter said...

I’m having a similar reaction with David Hume’s Enquiry concerning Human Understanding which I’m reading in connection with a discussion group at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in DC. At the end of section 7, Hume gives two definitions of “cause.” The second reads:

“where, if the first object had not been, the second never had existed.”

The context seems to make clear that by “first object” he means the cause and by “second” the effect. But if this is so, he is clearly wrong. We cannot reason back from an effect to a cause. To use a contemporary example, if the effect that we observe is a cough, by Hume’s second definition it could not exist unless the patient had pneumonia. But a cough could exist for many reasons other than pneumonia—allergies, a cold, or something worse like TB or cancer.

One commentator I’ve read tries, not very convincingly in my view, to explain it. But it doesn’t really matter. Hume’s entitled to a mistake, if that’s what it was.

I imagine him (and Kant) writing these works by hand, with a quill pen, and then going back over their work, reams of paper, inserting more material, deleting other parts until they thing had to be close to unreadable. Then they get a single page proof from a printer who had to set it in type letter-by-letter. The quality of what they produced under such conditions is amazing. For me, the enjoyment of reading them is the chance to engage with a brilliant mind—to the extent that I can.

Right now, I’m absorbed with Hume so I’m not reading Kant, but am following the lectures (and downloading them to watch again when I can get to the Critique).

Robert Paul Wolff said...

If you are not ready to read Kant, Hume is the very best alternative. I strongly recommend the Treatise, by the way. It is a beautiful work, and the greatest philosophy written in English.

Enjoy!

By the way, my sister, barbara Searle, for many years taught in the DC OLLI -- evolutionary biology and such like.

David Palmeter said...

I figured out a while ago that you were Barbara’s brother. I’ve taken several courses with her—her lower level ones; she also led classes for small group who were quite knowledgeable about biology, but I didn’t have the background for them. She told me several years ago that she had a brother who was a retired philosophy professor who taught at an OLLI in North Carolina. I recall suggesting that she lobby you to leave the Confederacy and come to DC and join us. It isn’t too late—we’d love to have you!

I re-read Book I of the Treatise this past summer before going back to the Enquiry. Every now and then I would be hit by the thought that he was only in his 20s when he wrote it. It was an incredible achievement.

Andrew Lionel Blais said...

Searle? As in John?

LFC said...

For the record, I did not mean to suggest that precision in using terms is a necessary condition for being a great philosopher.